Details are a bit sketchy, but clearly SOMETHING bad happened last weekend at the 2017 Cosplay Con & Anime Experience in North Little Rock, AR.

The event focused on cosplayers and guests were drawn from that area. The show purported to benefit the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Heroes And Angels Corp., Progressive Outreach Ministries, and several homeless shelters. All sounds like a fun weekend, right?

But, that’s not what happened. It seems that one of the show promoters, a man known as Malcolm Fledge (real name Kenton Paul) disappeared with the money from the show without paying any guests. Also, the credit card used to pay for the guests’ rooms didn’t work, leaving them out in the cold. And worst of all, three of the guests ended up in the hospital, one after suffering heart issues, one after passing one, and one after having a mental breakdown and attempting suicide.

The charges were first aired in a post on FB from attendee Katyusha Lubiani:

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More details emerge in the comments, this FB post, from guest David Waid as well as a 38 minute video from Lubiani laying out what went down–which I haven’t listened to but I’m sure its full of gory details. The con’s Facebook page has many, many more complaints, including emails to the main address for the show that bounced, a phone number that had no voice mail, a “rain gutter” vendor on the show floor, and vendors forced to take “vendor bucks” from prize winners…vendor bucks that were mostly never redeemed by the showrunners.

Also a rack of pillows fell on a baby in a stroller. Luckily it was only pillows and not Funko Pops.

The food vendor wasn’t paid either:

Please add my name to the list, I was the food vendor for this event. We are called BBQ Benefitting Arkansas we were promised $300 on Monday for catering the dinner Saturday night. If anyone wants to help me out I would appreciate it. I had to lay off my only employee and I also had to pay $300 to be the food vendor. If anyone is taking legal action please contact me as well so I can be added to the list.

Things were so bad that a GoFundMe has been set up to help the cosplayer who had mental issues at the show.

And Anime Arkansas, another local and LEGIT show expressed sorrow and offered lowered prices for their event next year.

At full disclosure, we would like to assure everyone that AnimeCon Arkansas nor any of our other events are in no way affiliated with Cosplay Con & Anime Experience. We want everyone to enjoy their time at any convention, because conventions are meant to be a fun way to escape the ordinary and see friends!
We hope to see everyone at AnimeCon Arkansas 2018 and in light of everything bad that happened this past weekend and the sorrow we feel for those affected, we will be lowering our pre-reg tickets to the original early bird price of $20 through this coming Saturday. We will make another announcement when this change has been made. Again, we as an AR con feel deeply for everyone affected and you are in our thoughts.

Trae Dorn, of  Nerd & Tie, did a bit of sleuthing and found that one Mark Schiedermayer was also involved as an organizer via a company called Heinders Healthcare, LLC, which seems to be a portal for pyramid schemes and has as a corporate address a homeless shelter. Schiedermeyer runs the con’s FB page and claims he was also ripped off by Fledge as well, however. He says he paid the venue, the Verizon Arena, and some of the other costs, but took a bath doing so.
Indeed.
So we have here two possibly shady fellows putting on a show, inviting guests, and then one of them just…running away with the money leaving guests and volunteers to hold the bag.
One thing mentioned in the comments is that Paul, aka Fledge may have done this in the past in Atlanta with another show. I have vague memories of another show where the promoter ran off with the money but… this happens a few times a year, so it could have been another scam.
Still, people connected with friends, and the Arkansas cosplay and fan community seems to be rallying around those who were ripped off at this show, and certainly our best wishes go out to all of those who became ill.
But this all does make you wonder if there will ever be a kind of Better Business Bureau for fan events?

 

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. The “rack of pillows” was a metal rack, that was an entire wall of the vendor’s area. Fortunately, when it fell, my teenaged daughter and I were towards one end, and were able to put up our arms to block it. The baby’s parents caught the other end on their heads and shoulders. Like I told them, if I had been pushing a stroller, I would not have been able to block it in time. Plus, they were towards the middle of the isle, whereas we were right next to it, so we saw it when began to topple and was moving slower. And yeah, I’m really glad it wasn’t a rack of Funko Pops.

  2. I was the Volunteer coordinator that stepped up and tried to make the best of this con that we could. I would love to speak with you to clear up a few thing please. Yes we all were scammed but not everything in this article is true. Please email me so that I can explain what really happened.

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